Closing Arguments Get Testy in Risperdal Gynecomastia Trial

Published on February 23, 2015 by Sandy Liebhard

A Philadelphia jury is now weighing evidence in an important Risperdal gynecomastia trial underway in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. According to Bloomberg News, the parties delivered their closing arguments last Friday, which at certain points became quite contentious.

“All of you know something the FDA still doesn’t know and that is the increased statistical risk of kids on Risperdal” developing abnormal breasts, the plaintiffs’ lawyer told the assembled jurors.

The lawsuit alleges that Risperdal caused a severely autistic man to develop female-like breasts during puberty. The complaint further accuses Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit of concealing the drug’s association with gynecomastia in boys, and of improperly promoting its use in children before pediatric indications were approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. The plaintiff began taking the medication in 2002, when he was just a boy.

Drug Company Lawyer Question’s Expert, Mother’s Testimony

During the nearly month-long trial, jurors heard testimony from a number of experts, including Dr. David Kessler, a former FDA commission who testified on the Plaintiff’s behalf. On Friday, defense attorneys tried to characterize Dr. Kessler as nothing more than a “hired gun,” something opposition counsel strongly disputed.

According to the Legal Intelligencer, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys noted that the defense had not even called a pediatric endocrinologist to the stand. “I brought in a commissioner of the FDA,” he said. “Where’s your commissioner of the FDA?”

The defense also tried to make an issue of testimony given by the young man’s mother, who had filed the case on her son’s behalf after seeing a Risperdal lawsuit commercial on TV.

“1-800. Call. We’ll sue,” she said. “Plaintiffs don’t matter. Facts don’t matter.”

“It’s a telltale sign when somebody smashes, mashes, bashes and stomps,” the plaintiffs’ attorney said in rebuttal. “An 800-lawyer? I’m proud to be a lawyer.”

This Risperdal lawsuit is one of more than 1,300 now pending in the mass tort proceeding underway in Philadelphia. As a bellwether trial, it might provide insight into how juries might rule in similar Risperdal gynecomastia claims.

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